My Sister Gay’s Fourth Installment: “Like Sunlight Burning at Midnight”

First Installment: Meet My Sister

Second Installment: The Functioning Years

Third Installment: The Maelstrom

From Gay’s heart to yours…

Gregg Taylor, my pastor and sweet, sweet friend, said in a sermon one night at Mercy Street that “the person who has a WHY to live can bear with almost any HOW.”  He was quoting Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles Frankl’s experiences as a concentration camp inmate.  It means that if I have a reason, a purpose, something beyond where I am, a sense of what I could become, and I know that tomorrow is going to bring me closer to that then I can work with where I am today.  He went on to say, “If you have no hope, life ends.”

I didn’t stop breathing while I was out there on the street, but in all other respects my life had ended.  I knew that.  I knew that I had caused my family to leave me because I had not been willing or able to stop drinking.  I don’t know now whether I couldn’t stop or I wouldn’t stop (probably some of both), I just know that I didn’t stop. In my mind, I no longer had anything to live for.  My family was gone.  My employability was gone.  My desire to make another stab at recovery was gone.  My self-respect and integrity were gone.  My faith in myself and God were gone.  I had no reason, no purpose, nothing beyond where I was.  I only had another miserable day on the street, in the elements, cold, sick, hungry, filthy, beaten in more ways than one, full of heartache, resentment, jealousy, fear, self-pity, self-loathing and hate.  My only purpose each day was to figure out how I was going to drink myself into unconsciousness so that I couldn’t see or feel the hopelessness that each day brought.  I didn’t want to wake up to another day of hustling, begging, stealing, cheating and doing what I had to do to stay alive, all of which were pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  I didn’t believe in God anymore — I knew that the All Mighty, All Powerful, All Merciful God that I had been taught about in Sunday School would not let me, ME, live out there like a wild animal!  I had lost all hope, and with that, I had lost the will to live.  I didn’t care anymore if I lived or died.

Yet somehow, unbeknownst to me, God WAS there.  I was just too covered up with my own “stuff” (heartache, self-pity, hate) and too busy trying to blot out that stuff to see Him. In the process, I had blotted Him out, too.  I did not see that when my body finally screamed out for food that food was there.  I did not see that the people I despised and hated, fought and scratched with, and told them I was BETTER THAN THEM were the very angels that God had sent to protect me.  I did not see that the porch that I slept UNDER (because I would get arrested for trespassing if I slept ON) was His shelter.  I did not see how much worse it could have been had my drug of choice been anything other than alcohol.  I did not see that each day that I woke up breathing was another day closer to the day He would strike … the day I would be ready; when all of the things that had blocked me from following His lead in the past were brought into submission.  The entitlement, the pride, the judgment, the dishonesty, the unwillingness to be obedient to His will for ME, for MY life, had to be surrendered so that I might not only obtain sobriety but also be effective in His world.

Now, let me rest on this for a second before I move on:  I found out later that His will for me was not simply for me to quit drinking.  It was for me to DO THE THINGS that He put before me each and every day, one day at a time, and that HE WOULD EQUIP ME with the tools to quit drinking!  He would EMPOWER ME.

Note: I know these things now.  I did not know them then.  Hindsight is better than foresight but I am hoping that those of you who are listening will not be as hardheaded as me!

Moving on …

After wandering aimlessly IN THE WILDERNESS for 18 months, a series of events that only a God could have brought together led me and my friend, Jerry, from Galveston to Houston.  The street was hard and mean in Houston.  No beach, no everyone-knows-each other-and-watches-each-other’s-backs, no First Presbyterian Church serving breakfast fit for a king on Saturday mornings.  As a matter of fact, all clothing and food supplies had been sent to Galveston to aid those still suffering from Hurricane Ike which had ravaged the island just six months before.  The City is much harder, walking distances much further, people more desperate, dangerous and demanding.  I couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t survive anymore.  It was too hard.  So I just laid down on the concrete underneath the Sabo Road overpass to die.  I didn’t panhandle anymore, I didn’t beg anymore, I didn’t fight anymore.  I laid down to die.

According to Jerry, I didn’t move from there for about two weeks, except to sit up long enough to drink myself back to sleep.  I might have eaten a bite or two.  I maybe even stumbled across the feeder road now and then to use the facilities at Jack In The Box, maybe not.  I don’t know.  I was in a blackout.  I had only one lucid moment during that entire time that I remember well, so well that it feels like yesterday.  It was night and I was alone in the dark.  I was lying on my left side and in my fear, whether of death or of continuing to live, I thought of my children and, at that moment, they became my WHY.  I didn’t care enough about myself to pray for my life but I cared enough about THEM to do just that.  I turned onto my back and hearing the endless roar of the traffic overhead, I spoke out loud to God where He could hear me and I could hear myself.  I spoke very precisely, almost demandingly and with my arm outstretched toward Heaven, I cried, “God, I know that You are up there.  I have been taught that all my life.  Now, I need Your help.  Now!  Because I’m going to die out here, Lord, and there are two little boys in Sugar Land that need a mother.”  Just like that, just exactly like that, and then it was done.  Amen and Amen.

I don’t know how much time passed between that prayer and being gently shaken awake by Tut: an hour, a day, two days.  But alone again in the night in the exact same spot, I felt a nudge and I heard a voice saying, “Gay, get up and get in the truck.  We’re going home.”  I didn’t hesitate.  I didn’t look around to see who I might take with me.  I didn’t look around to see who might stop me.  I didn’t even look around to see who it was.  I simply got up off the concrete and walked to the truck, one foot in front of the other, each step closer and closer, remembering the prayer because it was the ONLY thing I could remember about the weeks prior, knowing with each step that God – that God — that’s all I knew, without a shred of doubt, — that God had heard my cry and had moved Heaven and Earth to save me!  I became acutely aware in those miracle moments of the size and depth of the Love of God for a sinner like me.  As I settled into the warm, soft, leather seat of the white Chevy Suburban that I had ridden in so many times and looked over to confirm that the man was indeed Tut, I was struck with an awe that I can’t possibly describe.  That awe multiplied as we pulled away and I saw the bridge that I had tried to die under get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.  It was over.


It was OVER.


It was OVER.


My heart is pounding now as I bang this keyboard and I feel an urgency to cry my eyes out in more gratitude than I know how to express.  In my mumbling and fumbling to find the words to describe those moments, I think of the words to a song by Francesca Battistelli.  It goes like this:

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be.
Awakening my heart
Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace
Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful.
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful.


Gregg Taylor, my pastor and my sweet, sweet friend, also says that God never brings an end without offering a new beginning. I didn’t know HOW I was going to begin the climb out of hell.  I just knew that I was going to begin.  I was never the same after that night.
I have come undone.
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace.
Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful.
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful.


Praise Jesus, Love of my life.


471 Responses to “My Sister Gay’s Fourth Installment: “Like Sunlight Burning at Midnight””

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  1. 351
    Barbara says:

    What a beautiful tribute. I am happy for her but my heart aches for you. I still have the lady who “pulled me from the fire” with me on this earth & I know when I lose her nobody will take her place. Prayers for all of you. God Bless You.

  2. 352
    Susan says:

    That was stunningly beautiful. I haven’t read anything so powerful in a long time. God bless you, Gay. You are giving hope to so many by sharing your story.

    Blessings to you,

  3. 353
    Raschelle says:

    Precious Gay,
    Mercy! God’s mercy abounds in the depths of our despair. What a journey you have walked but all under the shelter of God’s wings. I hold you up in prayer sweet sister as you share your story, knowing that being so beautifully vulnerable can also be painful at times. Your journey makes me think of the Gaither’s song, “Something Beautiful.” God has made something extraordinarily beautiful of your life! I can see how you, sweet older sister, are Beth’s hero. Thank you for sharing the depths of your soul. God’s love pours out of your heart and touches many through the surrender of your pen to His calling! We all know…Love changes everything! Gay, you are a reflection of God’s Amazing grace, abundant love, and His mercy that covers and protects us all! God Bless you!

  4. 354
    KB says:

    No words. Just awe and utter gratitude for Gay and her bravery to share this story. I need this now.

  5. 355
    Vickie says:

    Siesta Girlfriend,

    I can just hear the angels singing louder and louder with each installment! Gay, the impact of your testimony is limitless….only God, only God! I hope this post doesn’t get lost in cyber space. I was MIA for 11 days and I sure missed this community, and also missed posting in a timely manner.

    This demon of choice was also my families choice of demon for generations. We lost(to death) my little sister almost two years ago to a combo of this demon and another. My brother is still in a stronghold after @ 35 years. I was going to wait until you posted the entire testimony and then print it for him to read. I’m not gonna wait, I’m not sure how much time he has left. Gay, do you and others realize that God is up to something beyond B.I.G. with this community and with You? I am so inspired by our Redeemer.

    My “BUT GOD” moment has happened so many times the past four years…that is how long God has been in my heart, not just in my head. I so wish I would have documented them. The latest happened on February 7th. Seriously, please stay with me here….I bawl about it almost everyday. It was during my quiet time. I was reading Luke 24 because my daily devo was on a verse in that chapter. When I got to verse 31 where it says, “then their eyes where opened”, I sensed God’s presence. His presence is so overwhelming….its different than his Holy Spirit that is in us all the time, which is grand nonetheless. He had a huge, huge revelation for me, kinda like He was opening my eyes to Himself. Anyway,sorry…. He ever-so-softly said, “I gave you my word, you can trust me”. And, I said, “but God, I do trust you or I’m trying to trust you”. I’m squalling now….I can do this. He said,”you are holding my word”, and I stared at my Bible in total awe and disbelief(nuts, huh), that the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE would give this to me. My mind raced to understand what He had just spoken to me. God gives us His word and He keeps His word. His word means a lot to Him just like our word means a lot to us. It means alot to us because we are image bearers of Him. He knew that I have struggled my entire adult hood with trusting people. At that moment, He knew I needed to know that I could trust him, take Him at His word. He has always kept His word and He will finish this thing just like His word says. Can you just believe that, He gave us HIS WORD!!!!
    The entire free world may have already made this connection eons ago but My Lord and Savior just recently revealed it to me, personally. I cry every stinkin time I share this! Sisters, He is life to me and to all of us!
    Whether we admit that or not, it is true.

    Well, Sweet Beth, I know this is probably not the “but God” you were requesting but I hope your okay with it.
    Sorry this post is so long and I so pray someone reads all of it!

    Love you guys!!!

    • 355.1
      Joanne says:

      Vickie… thank you for posting! I was already so moved by Gay’s post, and yours put me over the top. The tears are flowing. So powerful! I love our awesome God who knows what we need to hear and when!

  6. 356
    Lisa Doolittle says:

    Dear Gay, you are very brave and strong to have lived through what you lived through, and to share your story. I knew you back when you taught pre-k at that church in Sugar Land because we worked together. I never knew you had a drinking problem.

    I have fought my own demons too and was on the street. The one thing I could not, and still can’t, understand is how family can desert you. How can they sleep at night knowing you are on the street, alone, hungry, dirty, and scared. Aren’t they supposed to be there for you through it all? That is how I feel about it. My family deserted me too.

    Gay,YOU are amazing. God bless you over and over!

    • 356.1
      Carolyn says:

      Lisa: My daughter is an addict and locked in a battle for her life. I can tell you, most assuredly, that family does NOT sleep at night. Our pain is unbearable at times. At some point we realize that nothing WE do will help. It must come from within the brokenspirited. Anything we do for them becomes enabling them to continue in their addiction. We are here for her in prayer, unceasing, fervent prayer. We are getting out of God’s way so she will hear his still small voice. We believe that God loves her more than even we can love her and that His interest in her recovery is far more than we can imagine. As I type this I am locked in battle with the Destroyer, praying my fear will not cause me to step into God’s role for even one minute. But God will handle this… I am thankful for your recovery!

      • suzy says:

        Dear Carolyn,

        thank you for writing this… my daughter too is an addict and it has been a 3 year journey of enabling and learning that I am in God’s way… you wrote this so well, thank you, I gotta write it in my journal to remember…

      • cathy dodd says:

        Carolyn, I will pray for you and your sister. It is so hard to practice tough love. But, you are so right. May the Holy Spirit reach down and touch your daughter and set her free. May she find God,s love. May God grant you strengh and peace.

  7. 357
    connie k c says:

    Gay,I send my love and prayers to you and the rest of the family!
    SO proud of you and so thankful our God is so great.
    AMAZING that you are sharing and giving hope to others.
    And THANKS be to GOD for answering our prayers for you.
    Love ya, connie

  8. 358
    Rebecca says:

    Gay, you have come to this blog in MY time of need. Thank you sweet women, for baring your soul to help us all. I am crying…for you, for me, for all of us that hurt. You give me so much will never know.
    I love you already.

  9. 359
    Holli Meindl says:

    Gay, your story is amazing! I work at a soup kitchen a few times a month and have always had a heart for the homeless. I wonder what each story is behind the faces I see there. As I read your story, I wondered how many I have served have similar stories to yours? You are providing hope and healing to those who need it. I have never struggled with addiction and cannot even imagine what it is like. Hope and defeat come in many shapes though and I have, however, struggled with infertility and miscarriages and felt hopeless and defeated for a time. I was not a Believer yet, but I look back now and know that God was with me with every attempt or suffering. He blessed me with 3 adopted children. May you continue to minister to others and feel empowered to continue your walk in sobriety! God Bless You!!!

  10. 360
    Keren says:

    Praise be to God! Tut must be a wonderful man…a modern day Hosea. How blessed that he came for you….your story is touching many….thank you thank you for your willingness to tell it all! God bless you dear sister.

  11. 361
    BFF says:

    Wow!!! Love your transparency and your hope for all! Love you!!!

  12. 362
    kim cruz says:

    Gay… I am so thankful and encouraged and hopeful by your story… I have loved Beth and her engaging way to study the bible and grow closer to God, for many years and cant wait to see her in october… i stumbled across her blog and feel so overwhelmed with love for you too and your testimony.. having a 17 year old son dealing with addiction is so heavy on a mother’s heart, but i truly have hope that God will bring him through the fire.. xoxo please keep sharing…

  13. 363

    Gay, my father is homeless because of alcohol. If you, or any prayer warrior happens upon this please pray for him. Your story is faith infusing.

  14. 364
    Sherry says:

    I have a “pure t” lump in my throat. Gay, thanks for sharing sweet sister. All I can say is this – Our God is good to us!! Amen and Amen!

  15. 365
    Marsha says:

    Gay, my dear, dear friend. Reading your story was painful but not nearly as painful as watching it LIVE! It is the worst horror story ever! Thankfully, your story just keeps getting happier each day. You and God are a powerful team. Keep writing and telling your story my friend. You are such a courageous heroine. p.s. Webster’s defines heroine as: a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities.

  16. 366
    Cindy says:

    Gay, my heart is rejoicing for you! You are a branch extending to thousands who will extend to thousands. Tears are swelling and dripping! Your story/His story is powerful and no matter what the situation is in our lives, for many walk and wear different shoes, nevertheless, our hope can only be in the Lord! I am not where I want to be but I am not where I use to be. My addiction is with food, fear of here we go: so many: rejection, unloved, alone, speaking, being me (who am I anyway), sounding dumb, anxiety, don’t measure up, growing old, medical problems just starting at age 52 and the list goes on! However, I fight the same roller coaster battle daily! I am fearfully wonderfully made, He loves me, I am more than a conqueror and etc! Someday just someday, I pray my BUT GOD story will truly live in my heart and overcome these pesty demons! I lived in a marriage since I was 16, divorced two yrs ago, and was never good enough for him, perfect enough, skinny enough, physical abuse. I was never huge but always 30 – 50 pounds over weight. It was and is still a constant battle, as a matter of fact, I been thinking of a bowl of ice cream while crying over your story…LoL. I so long to be delivered from these fears and I love the Lord with all my heart! Serve Him and follow Him. But I still battle stronghold and you inspired me! Can’t wait for the next chapter!God’s love and grace be with you! Proud of you sister! Cindy

    • 366.1
      cathy says:

      Have you read Beth,s book, Get Out Of That Pit. It is awesome and could prove helpful to you. I will be praying for you. Don,t give up. He can help you!

  17. 367
    Cheryl, Austin says:

    Simply incredible. First time I’ve ever even begun to understand this kind of pain. I am so thankful for your life and our precious savior!
    Love love love!

  18. 368
    Victoria says:

    What a story , and what a precious woman you are. To share some of the darkest times are har, mine was Heroin andPain killing numb drugs. I also lost my family for a while but in my last 15 years of being clean and serving God completely my son has returned to God, and raising his son that way. I have to stand on His Promise to never leave me or forsake every day. Satan uses the fact that I was a preachers daughter and loved Jesus with all my heart till my teen years. Can anyone say Rebellion. Please keep the blog going it really uplifts all of us out here fighting our demons. Bod Richly Bless you Gal.

  19. 369
    Lori T says:

    Gay, you are an Inspiration and I am honored to be a part of your circle and the countless other LPM Siestas. Thank you for opening up past wounds to bring glory and honor to our Father.

    I reconsider Hebrews 11:6…as I envision your cries before God with your tender arms outstretched to the heavens asking for a fighting chance; fully surrendered to our omnipresent God.

    HE alone is Our Redeemer. Our Savior. Our Defender. Full of mercy.

    Amen and Amen.

  20. 370
    Janell Urban says:

    Praise God and Jesus! I am amazed at your testimony and how He used Tut! WOW! So thankful to God for you and your children and His grace and mercy upon your life! Thanks for sharing. Love you Gay!!! That is so amazing! God is so good!!! Jumpin up and down like David did!!! =) This year God has shown Himself Sovereign in so many ways…and it’s just February!!! Yippee

  21. 371
    Alicia R says:

    Wow…do you have a story of hope for so many that are hopeless. Music speaks to a very deep part of my soul and I couldn’t help but hear Chris Tomlin’s “God of This City” in my mind while reading your post. You may have been hiding to sleep and wanting to die, but all the while greater things were on the way. Bless your precious heart for sharing this hope….

    You’re the God of this City
    You’re the King of these people
    You’re the Lord of this nation
    You are

    You’re the Light in this darkness
    You’re the Hope to the hopeless
    You’re the Peace to the restless
    You are

    There is no one like our God
    There is no one like our God

    For greater things have yet to come
    And greater things are still to be done in this City
    Greater thing have yet to come
    And greater things are still to be done in this City

  22. 372

    Gay, thanks for this amazing, honest post. I’m an alcoholic in recovery and I related to so much. If you’re ever in need of a friend or a blog about being an addict AND a Christian, I write one over at I was sent here by a friend, and I’m so glad I came. You rock. Heather

  23. 373
    Diane Dikes says:

    Addiction is a family desease in mine. My older brother died from it in 1999. My Uncles died from it. My daddy stopped drinking in the 80’s..with God by his side.
    My younger brother and I are in recovery by Gods Grace. Unfortunately addiction took the life of my grandaughter in November at the sweet age of 21…I am 61. This desease is so cunning baffling and powerful. I cant tell how much your story is so reassuring and I am so hopeful for you and I will keep you in my prayers Gay. God bless you and thank God you ‘listened’.
    Keep on Keeping on my sister in sobriety!
    Diane D.

  24. 374
    Lynn Mink says:

    Gay, this post may not make any sense to you. I am the adult daughter of two alcoholics. My dad died at 43 and my mom died at 62. I am 63 myself now and have had a few drinks on some cruises I have been on but have never been what I would consider a real drinker. But for some reason recently I find myself wanting a drink. And I think about it frequently. I used to work in an addiction treatment unit, so I don’t have any preconceived notions about how little it might take for me to become a fullblown alcoholic. I ask God daily, “Don’t let me drink today.” I’m getting ready to go on another cruise soon and the part I look forward to most is being able to have a drink. If I may so boldly ask those of you who read this post to pray God’s protection around me each day that I won’t drink “today”. God bless you for your willingness to share your story. I have learned that God only gives me light for my next step and that I can only live one day at time. Thank you again. Love in Christ, Lynn

  25. 375

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

    • 375.1
      Lindsee says:

      Hi Ruben, I don’t think there is anything I can do to reverse that. I am so sorry! If I learn that there is a way, however, I will certainly remove it.

  26. 376
    Kathe Mensik says:

    My hell was crippling fear of crisis after crisis and, if not in a crisis, of when the next crisis was going to begin. I heard Beth once say, “I thought the goal of life was the absense of pain.” So did I, and that knit my heart to hers in a way that I’ll never be free of—praise God! My whole life was focused on controling our family’s life to prevent pain—and it never worked… Through “Breaking Free”, I learned to climb out of hell, one obediant step at a time. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, slowly but obediently, believing in faith that Jesus would always be there to keep me -if not upright- at least crawling forward, one step at a time; out of my prison and into His glorious freedom! Yes! He was always faithfully with me. It wasn’t easy, but He is incredibly faithful–even when I least deserve it. We serve an extravagently generous God! Glory! Amen and Amen!

  27. 377

    I love hearing God’s grace described from a person who knows their life literally relies on that grace. If we all could grasp that need of grace; because whether we know it or not, each of our lives depends on it, too.

    Thanks, Gay, for your transparency and willingness to share.

  28. 378
    Jenny Harrison says:

    So, I’m sitting at school, which is my work, reading your story all out crying at God’s awesomeness. My high schoolers are wondering what in the world is going on! Thanks for sharing and reminding me that God hears us EVERY TIME, we just have to wait on his timing.

  29. 379
    Glenda~St.Charles, MO says:

    Thank you for minstering to me!
    Thank you for showing me a God of Miracles.

    I too have been MIA and am so happy to be back in the arms of yall.

  30. 380
    Mary says:

    You are so beautifully blessed not only for conquering your addiction and throwing it down but for the words you are blessed with in telling your amazing story. I am a mother of 3 children and my oldest has been struggling with addiction for 6 years. He is adopted; he is my greatest gift God ever gave me yet I have such sadness watching what I cannot help. I often feel like I can’t be involved one more day, one more time, watching him fall victim again to this terrible illness. BUT, God is good and after this long and awful struggle, in a moment, God blessed us with a new place for my son, a sort of program so different than any other and he is now recovering, happy, and has found purpose in his life. I realize that this may only last another day or even another hour but I thank God everyday for at least giving him a reprieve. We no longer will enable him but we will love him and forever support a program or a lifestyle that might offer him another chance. This horrendous illness has given us an opportunity to know people we would never have met, share our struggles and our story and it has given us an understanding that unless you are face to face with addiction, one would never see. My son too was homeless and it ripped me apart every minute of every day but I now have a heart that can see their pain and I pray for God’s blessing on each and every one of them everyday, that they may feel the hand of Jesus and be saved. You are an amazing inspiration!!

  31. 381
  32. 382
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